Novelist, critic, and founder--along with Octavio Paz (who contributes an introduction here)--of the Mexican literary review Vuelta, Garcia Ponce is seriously regarded in Spanish letters. Here, with a novella and three rather etiolated stories, we get a concentrated attar of his approach: rather abstract and formal, focusing on metaphors and corollaries that preside over fevers of the flesh or intimations of mortality and recaptured time. In ""The Cat,"" two trysting lovers are joined by a stray cat whose presence in the room during love becomes imperative--a sort of slinking second-skin to their desire. In ""The Square,"" a man recovers a place--a cafâ€š at one side of a Chirico-esque town square--only by ceding to the enormous indifference (to him) of time. ""Anticipation"" is perhaps the most satisfying thing here--a quicksilver, Middle-European-like analysis of a two-sided friendship that, like most friendships, requires a third side: incomplete memory. The novella, ""The Seagull,"" is the least thing here--a straightforward story of adolescent pressure and ecstatic relief. . .with a presiding symbol large enough to hang a beer keg from. The patterns in these stories are more attractive than their executions, but of Garcia Ponce's refinement and intellectual tact there can be no question. Admirably translated by Helen Lane.